The Confidence-Man, by Herman Melville

Chapter xxxv.

In which the Cosmopolitan Strikingly Evinces the Artlessness of His Nature.

“Well, what do you think of the story of Charlemont?” mildly asked he who had told it.

“A very strange one,” answered the auditor, who had been such not with perfect ease, “but is it true?”

“Of course not; it is a story which I told with the purpose of every story-teller — to amuse. Hence, if it seem strange to you, that strangeness is the romance; it is what contrasts it with real life; it is the invention, in brief, the fiction as opposed to the fact. For do but ask yourself, my dear Charlie,” lovingly leaning over towards him, “I rest it with your own heart now, whether such a forereaching motive as Charlemont hinted he had acted on in his change — whether such a motive, I say, were a sort of one at all justified by the nature of human society? Would you, for one, turn the cold shoulder to a friend — a convivial one, say, whose pennilessness should be suddenly revealed to you?”

“How can you ask me, my dear Frank? You know I would scorn such meanness.” But rising somewhat disconcerted —“really, early as it is, I think I must retire; my head,” putting up his hand to it, “feels unpleasantly; this confounded elixir of logwood, little as I drank of it, has played the deuce with me.”

“Little as you drank of this elixir of logwood? Why, Charlie, you are losing your mind. To talk so of the genuine, mellow old port. Yes, I think that by all means you had better away, and sleep it off. There — don’t apologize — don’t explain — go, go — I understand you exactly. I will see you tomorrow.”

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Last updated Monday, March 17, 2014 at 17:11